choose not a life of imitation

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and part of that is because I have been busy, but mostly I wanted to be strategic about how I share what is going on. It’s no secret that I have anxiety and OCD. That is why I started this blog. I use my own humor and sarcasm to help cope with everything, which up until recently had worked. But another way I cope is by closing off and bottling up. The worse I feel, the quieter I stay (spoiler alert: this never ends well).

Me playing it totes cool when things are, in fact, not totes cool.

It’s no secret that 2018 has been a hard year. I’ve struggled with just about everything that’s been thrown my way. Last Thursday was when I finally reached the tipping point. I had a phone session with my therapist. She urged me to go get an assessment at a mental health institute. She knew I wasn’t suicidal but she held firm on her wish for me to be evaluated. My first thought was how to tell my family. I’ve been closed off, pretending I was fine when I really, really wasn’t, and now I had to explain to my parents and my husband (who was out of state for work) that I needed to be evaluated ASAP {as possible}. Not tomorrow or over the weekend. I needed it now/yesterday/a week ago. I knew they would be blindsided. Everyone likes to think, myself included, that if we had a family member or close friend in crisis that they would know that they could come to me with zero judgement. But when the crisis comes and you’ve spent so much time and energy pretending that things are ok it’s a completely different game. After work, my mom picked me up and took me to the facility. We got there at 8:45. We waited. My brother brought me something to eat and hung out with us in the waiting room.  After being evaluated and hearing the treatment plan that the doctor recommended it was almost 5:00 am. My mom was still there. My brother was still there. They came in and heard from the clinician what the doctor felt was best. Partial hospitalization. It didn’t (and still doesn’t, honestly) feel real. It seems like such an extreme measure for someone who is just going through a difficult time. The problem was that I had surpassed difficult time.  I wasn’t a danger to myself or others but I wasn’t in a good space. I was in a terrible space and no matter how hard I tried nothing seemed to pull me out of it.

I’m still totally new to what is going on (I started yesterday) and I’m not going to lie, there are multiple times a day that I still think I can do this on my own. The truth is that I can’t, though, and I am in a situation where I can take the much needed time to work on myself. I hope that anyone reading this who happens to find themselves in a similar situation (ideally that would be no one but the reality is that it is highly likely), please know that you aren’t in it alone. Trust me. I write a blog chronicling my struggle with anxiety and OCD (depression has been the added bonus!) but I still felt like I was alone. Keep in mind that at the very least you have the girl who fumbles through a blog (and life, tbh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) who can relate. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you need to do in order to take care of your mental health.

I’m here to be your biggest fan…*looks around hoping someone appreciates my dad joke*

So what does this mean for my irregular blog posts? Well, hopefully, I can share what has helped me start feeling like I am back in control and healthy coping mechanisms to use when things start taking a turn for the negative (turns out humor/sarcasm isn’t exactly on that list). But don’t you worry one bit because this entire episode has been the accelerant that my OCD craved. Much to my dismay, it is thriving.  For example, today while driving home I was passed by two fire trucks when I was a mile or two away from my house. They were driving in the direction I go to get to my house (so not towards my house, there is a distinct difference) and I felt the panic start because surely my house was on fire and that is why those two fire trucks were driving in that direction.

I should know that the fire scenario highly unlikely because I unplugged almost everything before I left this morning (and was late, as usual) and made two additional trips to check that things were unplugged between my front door and my car. So yeah, blog content won’t be an issue.

For today I will leave you with this: since I am trying to have a more positive outlook on things, at the very least now I can say I’m the jolliest asshole this side of the nuthouse and it is a fact.

I know I used this in my last post but it was too good of an opportunity to use it again.

-A

If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*

 

 

when your OCD wins

Well, well, well what do you know? Looks like my blog about OCD is actually getting back to being a blog about OCD. Today’s overshare (kidding, of course, seeing as how I do this willingly) is inspired by a post from my friend over at Yeah OCD.

I know the fears that fuel my anxiety (which turns into compulsive checking) are irrational. I know that. I know my front door is locked. I know I unplugged my curling iron. But what about the times where I didn’t unplug the curling iron? Or I accidentally let one of the cats out? Or I didn’t lock the door? Or check to make sure the burners on the stove were off? On the off chance one of my OCD fears becomes a reality, I don’t just go back to starting over. I go further back as if I started a race a few seconds early and was forced to move my starting line back in return (and, for the record, I don’t like participating in any event that involves a starting line).

Having to start over AND start further behind is incredibly difficult. The OCD won and it uses every opportunity to remind me of it.

OCD reminding me about that one time I forgot to do that one thing back in 2009 as I am walking to my car.

If I leave my curling iron on in the morning and discover it when I get home my first feeling isn’t reassurance that the house is fine and everything ended up being okay. It is a complete guilt trip turned panic attack because I didn’t check enough. Now, instead of checking 2 or 3 times before I can leave the house (and by that I mean leave the neighborhood because there have been many, many times where I turn around to go back and check before I’ve left the complex) I will check 4 or 5. And then, even after I am in the car, the OCD is in the back of my head reminding me about the time I left the curling iron on and plugged, even if it was years ago. There is no expiration date on these things, which I would argue is one of the hardest parts of living with OCD.

I am okay. I’ll just be sure to stress about this for eternity.

I actually left one of my cats out in 2011 and still, every time I leave the house will watch my feet as I open and close the door. Go back in and check to make sure she is in there. Look through the windows to see if she is still inside. It is a really, really crappy way to live. I know what I am doing is irrational but checking is the only thing that eases my anxiety. And if that doesn’t help then I have a backup plan.

On a completely unrelated and much happier note, today is the day after Thanksgiving which means only one thing: ya girl is decorating for Christmas. Some people spend their post-Thanksgiving time waiting for hours in line surrounded by strangers (my literal nightmare) to possibly, but probably not likely, get a deal on a new TV.

plasma tv

But not me. I freakin’ love decorating for Christmas. Come Friday my house will be filled with candles that smell like fresh cut Christmas trees, Elf and Christmas Vacation on repeat, and a custom holiday playlist that includes some of my favorite Christmas songs, such as this Hanson staple, anything from this album, and most definitely this 1994 classic.

-A

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rainbows & a month of tomato soup

Monday marked one month since losing my grandmother. Am I sad? Yes, but I am doing better than I expected. Those baby steps I wrote about before are starting to make a noticeable difference. The day she was buried there was a small rainbow that formed as my family and I were getting ready to leave. I saw an almost identical rainbow after I went to visit her on Saturday.

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10/23/2018
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11/17/2018

As you might already know from my previous post, the guilt I felt about not making that damn tomato soup haunted me. So on Friday I visited my amazingly talented tattoo artist, Josh, and got a permanent reminder of the good memories I have with my grandmother (and tomato soup). *a special shout out & thank you to Josh for waiting on me because I live in Atlanta so traffic is an unpredictable nightmare*

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This was the day after I got it done if you couldn’t tell by the swelling and bruising.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to my family and friends, for their unconditional love and support, Taylor, for sticking with me during the lowest of lows I’ve hit, and last but certainly not least, you all for reading my blog and letting me know I’m not alone when it comes to my struggles. When I started this blog it was a way for me to share my experiences with OCD but it has evolved into me opening up about my anxiety and depression, which is not something I had ever really planned on doing. There have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was on an island when it came to mental health and starting this blog has shown me that even on my worst days I am not alone. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for lovin’ me, thank you for bein’ there! Everyone’s thankin’! The whole world’s thankin’ you! Thankin’ us, for thankin’ you! What’s your Thanksgiving song?

-A

 

Also, if you haven’t started following me on Instagramcooler

 

baby steps

I knew last week would be rough. I didn’t realize this week would give it a run for its money. Yesterday was the first day since October 18th that I didn’t cry. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself on the brink a few times but I am finally starting to feel like the massive blanket of depression that has been wrapped around my shoulders is starting to loosen. I can look at pictures of my grandmother without crying. I can remember the good times without (quite as much of) the guilt I felt for any of the free time I didn’t spend with her during her last weeks and days. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need a good cry every now and then, but my eyes need a break. I’m starting to think I have entered a state of advanced dehydration due to the amount of crying (and occasional evening Bud Light Lime or four) I’ve done the past two weeks.

So, how did being thrown into the first week post-loss go for me? Less than stellar. The water to our entire complex was shut off Monday for emergency maintenance, so I sat on the couch like a potted plant instead of attempting to cross anything off of my to-do list (which started in July 2017 and has never been fully completed). I woke up Tuesday with a bit more pep in my step but it was quickly washed away once I got to work, where I was greeted with typical work things and promptly discovered the soup of the day was none other than tomato, which I’m pretty sure ya’ll already know didn’t go over well. I ended up using my lunch break to get cup of tomato soup and go to my car and cry. Because when life gives you lemons, what do you do? Go to your car and cry. Also, and this is small potatoes compared to the whole soup car crying thing, I have somehow managed grow an Olympus Mons (geography degree nerd humor, FTW!) sized zit on my face overnight Monday and it has truly flourished in the anxiety and stress ridden environment that is my life right now. Wednesday was definitely the highlight because, not only was it Halloween, it was my Super Awesome, Totally Rad Mom’s birthday!

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Here is a pic of us from earlier in October with my brother, Dan, who is also pretty awesome.
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Here is a comparison of my mom and me at the same age. Or maybe not. Could be the same baby.
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Since you already saw our 2017 ‘stumes, here is a picture of me and T dressed up for Halloween in 2013. (I tried really hard to make that NOT rhyme but no matter what it ended up sounding like something from a Kidz Bop cover of a rap song.) Shake and bake, baby!

Thursday was a long day that began with accidentally branding my arm with a clothes steamer and now it is Friday. Finally. Here’s to hoping I don’t end up crying in my car during my lunch break next week. But if I do, that’s okay too.

one of the most painful realizations that comes with grieving is that our lives go on—and that has to be okay.

If anyone is struggling with returning to life as usual after a loss, this article was a huge help to me.

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This is how I looked most of the week.

Now that you’re nice and sad, some exciting news: my blog surpassed 1,000 views! 

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read about lil’ ol’ me, the human equivalent of a houseplant but with more complicated emotions. The calamity that is my life doesn’t seem to be slowing down so I’m happy to continue supplying the masses with relatable content/content that will, at the very least, make you feel better about your own situation. Let’s keep this good thing going!

-A

….Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably account for around 25% of those views but whatever. Still counts.

party time, excellent!

**WOW WOW WOW my post has taken a turn for the better since I started putting it together! I took a break from writing to write this intro because I just found a party planning guide on the International OCD Foundation’s website and it DOES NOT disappoint!

TLDR: I’m using the Fundraising House Party Guide to plan a theoretical party to educate my friends and family on the intricacies of my OCD.

 

 

OCD B&W
This picture was an accident but I feel like my twitching eye really needs to be on the internet forever. Also, the state of my desk is worth noting. And my reference to The Office.

 

Happy OCD Awareness week! I feel weird using the word happy here because I’m pretty certain that I would be a lot happier if I wasn’t dealing with OCD in the first place but… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As I predicted in last week’s post, I didn’t come up with anything fun or exciting this week. I did some research (took 5 minutes out of my lunch break to look at this website) to see get some inspiration. Unfortunately, my favorite one (host house party to raise funds) isn’t an option given that it is 2:00 on a Tuesday so I opted for social media and hashtags. And because I am all about transparency I also included some of the pictures (I took a lot. A. LOT) that I normally wouldn’t share because I look like such a dufus.

 

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Doing it for the ‘gram. (@lfkiew)

 

 

 

 

 

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oH mYy gOd i aM lYkE soOo OCD! *hair flip*

 

All super flattering pictures aside, I am really digging this OCD party planning guide. So much so that I am going to summarize it for all of you because it is #1 on my newly-created list of Things That Probably Don’t Need to Exist but Do Anyway.

Step 1: How to Host a Fundraising House Party

Here we learn that house parties can come in many forms. Is this a freshman year of college-style party? Will there be a keg involved? Jungle juice? Perhaps your friends would really love one of those murder mystery clue dinners that you briefly interrupt to request a monetary donation. It’s ok if you aren’t sure because this guide goes above and beyond by giving some suggestions. Pool party on a hot day? Wine and cheese gathering at your home? Sign. Me. Up.

Step 2:  Steps to a Successful Fundraiser in Your Home

Two words: template invitations. Unless you want to be super OCD about the whole thing (see what I did there…) and create your own. Your invitation needs to mention that this party is a fundraiser and that there will be a presentation. Personally, I think I would take a different route and surprise all of my guests much like Michael does in the Dinner Party Episode. Consider including an envelope with your invitation (because instead of using an evite like the rest of human civilization you are sending it via dinosaur). Don’t forget to mention that donations are tax deductible. We don’t need the IRS asking why Susan tried to write off her $10 donation to the IOCDF. Last, but certainly not least, is to call and harass any guest who hasn’t sent an RSVP to let them know that their delivery dino is hoarding mail. As an added bonus, you can include your story on the invitation so that your guests know the ways OCD has impacted your life but also that you aren’t trying to scam them out of $10.

Page 5 shows the benefits of using Facebook, evites, and even Twitter (probably need to make this the first suggestion and not mailing a paper invite, my dudes. Also, why is the word ‘even’ in front of Twitter?) to help boost party attendance. For example, you can message a handful of your closest friends about your party so that it can get lost in a sea of Candy Crush invites and chain letters telling them to post the color of their bra to confuse all the men in social media land. One of my favorite tidbits is you can also “tweet” about it to your Twitter followers because anything with unnecessary quotation marks takes the sketch level to 11.

Step 3: Get That Money, Honey

First things first, make your guests put their name on a sign-in sheet when they arrive. That is a foolproof way to make sure they attend any future parties you throw. Have everyone crowd around you while you kill the party vibe by sharing your personal story about living with OCD. Once you’ve dug up enough anxiety by oversharing to all of your friends, have a respected and well-spoken member of the gathering (well, that eliminates almost anyone I invite to my parties) “call on the guests to make a donation.” What’s better than a guilt trip to donate money to a cause? Doing so in front of a group.

Okay, I am sold. Let’s do the damn thing. 

Friends, please keep an eye out for my invitation. Though bear in mind that it might be a while until it arrives because I’ll be Fred Flinstoning these bad boys to ya’ll on evenings and weekends since I work full time.

 

Me pulling up to deliver your invite.

 

 

-A

 

*I know you all love my quick wit and sarcasm, and since I recognize my quick wit and sarcasm can come across as just me being a jerk, I made a donation to the Pediatric Campaign 4 Hope. One of my biggest coping mechanisms, for better or for worse, is humor.*

OCD Receipt

If you are interested in donating to the Internation OCD Foundation, click here.

Thank you all for the overwhelming amount of support I have received since I started this blog.  It has been more helpful than I ever expected.